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Each year, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) assesses the threat to the United States from foreign economic collection and industrial espionage in its reports to Congress.
The 2011 report differs from previous editions in three important ways. The first and most significant is the focus. This report gives special attention to foreign collectors' exploitation of cyberspace, while not excluding other established tactics and methods used in foreign economic collection and industrial espionage. This reflects the fact that nearly all business records, research results, and other sensitive economic or technology-related information now exist primarily in digital form. Cyberspace makes it possible for foreign collectors to gather enormous quantities of information quickly and with little risk, whether via remote exploitation of victims' computer networks, downloads of data to external media devices, or e-mail messages transmitting sensitive information.
The second difference from prior reports is that, in addition to researching the large body of intelligence reporting and analysis on economic espionage produced by the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense (DoD), and other US Government agencies, the drafters of this report consulted new sources of government information.
Third, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) mobilized significant resources from outside the IC during the course of this study. This included outreach to the private sector and, in particular, sponsorship of a conference in November 2010 on cyber-enabled economic espionage at which 26 US Government agencies and 21 private-sector organizations were represented. ONCIX also contracted with outside experts to conduct studies of the academic literature on the cost of economic espionage and the role of the cyber "underground economy."